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Saturday, June 15, 2019

My Memories of the London Reunion 2019

By Nihal D Amerasekera

Medical School wasn’t a bed of roses. I still feel a flicker of nerves when I think about it. We said our goodbyes in the Faculty 52 years ago. That is indeed a veritable lifetime.Then we went our separate ways to face an uncertain future in a rapidly changing world. Now all of us are septuagenarians,forever uncertain of what tomorrow may bring.

The long awaited London Batch Reunion finally arrived on the 12th of June 2019. Twenty three from our batch including spouses gathered in the splendid surroundings of Satay House in Sale Place, to reminisce and reconnect those great moments. After the hugs and the handshakes, we caught-upon the ‘lost years’.Those gruelling years spent while making a career and bringing up children. Old bonds were renewed despite the memory lapses and failure to recognise old friends. Some had arrived from far afield as Colombo, Manchester, Kent and Hertfordshire. The incessant rain held up the cricket World Cup but didn’t dampen the spirits of our friends.

The ladies in their glamour swept into the room with their youthful elegance.It was hard to believe many of them were grandmothers. The men in their dapper summer attire(grandfathers) looked only a day older than when we were bohemian medical students with stethoscopes round our necks and walking the long corridors of the GHC. The gradual crescendo of the noise level reached its peak a few minutes after we gathered. There was a second peak after the liquid refreshments.Anecdotes from the past flooded the hall with peals of laughter. We jogged each others memories and prompted the names that had disappeared into the fog of time. We did remember absent friends who are now scattered round the globe. As we were a small group there was huge enthusiasm to mix freely and meet everyone, and we all did.

It brought us immense pleasure to see the spouses of our batch friends. Sunil’s wife Sirima, NeelanganiDambawinna, Mr.Francis (Edwis’ husband), DhushyanthiVedavanam, Joe Subasinghe(Zita’s husband) and Sakuntala (Balakumar’s wife). They were welcomed to our midst with open arms of friendship and affection. We thank them for their presence.

We had a sumptuous Malaysian meal amidst the friendly gestures and reminiscences. The aromatic beef rendang and rice was a plateful of sensory overload.  It was topped up with some delicious ice cream. Wine and conversation continued to flow freely. We had amazingly sharp recollections of events of 50 years ago.As ’Koch and Bull’ stories and ‘tall tales’ filled the air they still seem enduring, ageless and timeless. Now more than ever there is a tendency for the topics of conversation to converge more on the present. We spokemore of our children, grandchildren and our own health and well-being. With the passage of time our youthful arrogance has given way to serenity andhumility. Ouraspirations, aims and ambitions too have evolved and changed significantly. Those pretentious and boastful comments on wealth, professional status and the letters after one’s name,now seem out of place.They are not mentioned even in jest. That is the good sense and sensibility that comes with growing older as we now revel in the freedom of retirement.

The master of ceremonies, MahendraGonsalkorale, proposed a vote of thanks to Pram. It was most appropriate that we stood for a minute in silence for the many who lost their lives in the most recent tragedy in Sri Lanka. In silence we also remembered all our friends who endured the agony and the ecstasy of Faculty life with us and have now departed this world. We took time to commend and salute Prof SanathLamabadusuriyafor the tremendous work done by him for Paediatrics and Medical Education in Sri Lanka.

After months of planning, everything came together beautifully. The feedback for the function has been excellent, and the expectation is that we must make this a regular event.The success of the reunion was due to the goodwill and support of all who attended. Whenever there was a reunion or a gathering, large or small wherever in the world, it wouldn’t happen without the energy, genuine warmth and passion of,PramillaKannangara. Her self-effacing modesty astounds me.Pram does all of this work in the background away from the limelight. The success of this event is a tribute to her hard work. I wish to thank Pram on behalf of everyone who attended this event.

The London Reunion 2019 was a fabulous event of friendship of our batch and all our friends who joined us.We will forever remember the happiness and the laughter that filled the dining-hall on that soggy afternoon. May we have the good fortune to meet again.


EDWIS FRANCIS and husband

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

If You Had $500,000.00 Would You Go?

   By Srianee (Bunter) Fernando Dias                        

It is very possible that within our lifetime rockets to Mars will take along some brave astronauts.  SpaceX, the company whose founder and CEO is Elon Musk, is funding and developing a series of cargo flights to Mars on powerful rockets named Starship and Super Heavy which may begin in 2022.  These Big Falcon Rockets (BFRs) will transport and assemble methane/oxygen propellants before crewed flights begin as early as 2024. That is their goal. Other companies that are investing in similar ventures are Boeing and Lockheed-Martin. 

Before we travel to Mars the planet has to be able to support human life.  I believe water has been detected on the Red Planet, but the atmospheric air on Mars is mostly CO2.  The pioneer astronauts who land on the planet would have to walk around in space suits all the time.

Will there be commercial flights to Mars?  SpaceX’s president and COO, Gwyneth Shotwell says that in 10 years or so they hope to take people to Mars.  Elon Musk says one can possibly purchase a ride on one of these rockets for $500,000.00.  But when?  Of course, for those of us over 75 years, one can merely fantasize.  We are unlikely to qualify for the physical and mental challenge of a trip that could take 150 to 300 days, depending on the speed of the launch and the travel path of the rocket.

Who would be likely to take a trip to Mars? 
Do you think it is necessary to spend billions of dollars on space explorations?
Do you believe that there are life forms on planets beyond our solar system?

Note:  Much of this information has been gleaned from internet sites.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

MediVision 2020 – Medical Exhibition

The Faculty of Medicine Colombo celebrates its 150th anniversary in the year 2020.  As the pioneer seat of learning the art and science of medicine in Sri Lanka, our faculty has numerous facets to celebrate, spanning three centuries. Many events have been organized to celebrate our 150th year including a medical exhibition “MediVision 2020” for the general public, prioritizing school children with the hope of inspiring the future generations.  The exhibition will be held within the Faculty premises from 27th March to 4th April 2020 under the theme “The Glory of a Medical School”.

A Raffle Draw with an exciting array of prizes has been organized to commemorate our Faculty’s 150th birthday and raise funds for the anniversary celebrations. The draw will be held on 26th July 2019 at the faculty premises. Raffle tickets are priced at Rs 100 each and each raffle ticket book contains 10 tickets (Rs. 1000/- per book).  

We invite our alumni to join us in celebrating the 150th anniversary of our faculty and would be extremely grateful if you could help us in raising funds for this event by extending your support towards the sale of raffle tickets. Ticket books are available in the faculty premises. If you are able to help by the sale raffle tickets or any other means please contact:
Mr. Lakshan Dharshana - +94 112695 300 ext 293, +94 773524235,
We look forward to your maximum support. 
Thank you
MediVision Organizing Committee

Colombo Medical School Alumni Association
Faculty of Medicine
University of Colombo
Sri Lanka

Friday, June 7, 2019

Felicitation Ceremony for Prof. Sanath Lamabadusuriya

Dear Friends,

Yesterday, 6th of June 2019, the Faculty of Medicine, Sabaragamuwa University organised a felicitation ceremony for me for completing 50 years of academic paediatrics  on the 1st of April, 2019). The felicitation address was delivered by Professor Deepthi Samarage. I have attached her speech as well as the power point presentation.

Kind regards,


Click on the following link.

Felicitation Ceremony for Prof. Sanath Lamabadusuriya

Tribute to 50 years of career – Prof S.P Lamabadusuriya

The Vice Chancellor, University of Sabaragamuwa , Deans of the faculties of, Director &Consultants of the Ratnapura Teaching  Hospital, Academic & Non Academic Staff of FOM & students
It is indeed with great pleasure thatI present glimpse of a 50  longyears of professional life  of this unique personality and a  legendary academic  in  the field of Paediatrics.
A baby boy was born on 30thDecember  1942 to Late Mr Alexander Sirisena Lamabadusuriya& Late Mrs Frances BeatricsWickramasuriya  at De Souza Maternity Home in Colombo . He was named SanathPunsiriLamabadusuriya . This cute little boy grew uphighest standards of moral valuesinculcated on him in a peaceful family environment.He being the youngest of a family of four received ample attention not only from his parents butalso from his 3 elder sisters.
He attained his primary education from Royal College Colombo. Master Sanath was a brilliant scholar in school and was recipient of many memorial prizes at the college prize giving. Fulfilling a burning ambition, this youngboy from Royal College gained admission to the  Faculty of Medicine , University of Colombo  in year 1962.
He continued to flourish his extraordinary achievements during hisyears medical school. He graduated with first-class honors in 1967 rankingfirst not only among the graduates Colombo but alsoin the combined merit list with Peradeniya medical faculty
DrSanath   was groomed by many  reputed medical giants in that era  such as  Professor K Rajasuriya and DrDr.P R Anthonis.

This young doctor soon became conscious of his talents for treating children and proceeded to United Kingdom for his postgraduate studies in Paediatrics

He commenced his illustrious career 5 decades ago  withhis training as a  Research Fellow and an Honorary Registrarat the Premier children’s hospital ,   Institute of Child Health, University of London and Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street.United Kingdom .

He returned to Sri Lanka in year 1975 to join the Faculty of Medicine University of Colombo as a young senior lecturer  in Pediatrics.

DrSanathhad an admirable passion for his continuing professional development and made use of every opportunity to progress in his carrier while serving at as aConsultantPaediatricianat Professorial Paediatric Unit at Lady Ridway Hospital .

 His research interests were wide in the field of Paediatricsand this young academic was the recipient of the manyawards for the best paper at scientific congresses.

Reading for a PhD is an integral part of an academic carrier progression in most  disciplines. However in the field of medicine among clinicians  obtaining  a research degree is not obligatory and was not the culture to do so .

With his unrivalled abilityand keen interest in research  DrSanathLamabadusuriya was the very first to do a research degree among Clinicians in Sri Lanka . Many more clinicians have followed his footsteps thereafter.

It took no time for this young senior lecturer to climb up the ladder. Making the predictions of an astrologer that  he would  became a Professor by the age of 40 he was appointed as the founder Professor of Paediatrics Faculty of Medicine, University of Ruhuna, Galle.

His pioneering efforts in establishing the FOM Galle is well known all in the medical fraternity. Large number of graduatesfrom this  medical faculty who  have excelled in their career and are leading consultants  in the country today are a testimony of a dedicated and committed teacher .
In his academic career flashbacks of the years he spent in Galle are thefondest memorieshe cherish in his mind  giving him utmost  satisfaction even to date.
In the year  1991 he was appointed  Senior Professor & Head, Dept. of Paediatrics,
Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo. And later In year 2002  he assumed duties as the Dean, of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo and served in this capacity until year 2005

Prof Lamabadusiriya’sscientific accomplishments over past 50 years are too numerous for me to spell out completely. .However I seek your indulgence to mention at least few of them.
He was the recipient of many national and international awards & fellowships and has heldmany prestigious positions. To name some of them

1) Child Health Foundation Fellowship (Prize) for Social Paediatrics, awarded by the
W.H.O. and International Paediatric Association (IPA) - 1987/88.
2) Elected as Honorary Member of British Paediatric Association
3)  Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Paediatrics& Child Health
4) Appointed as an examiner for MRCP(UK) Part II by Royal College of Physicians, London
5) Appointed as Overseas Adviser by the Royal College of Physicians, London 1993 – 2008.
6)  Awarded “Outstanding Paediatrician for Asia”  at the 9th Asian Congress of Paediatrics

7) Elected as Fellow of Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health 1997.
8) Appointed as an examiner for FCPS – II Examination in Paediatrics by College of Physicians & Surgeons, Pakistan
9 )Member of Expert Group on Child Health & Development- WHO/SEARO.2008

A Special emphasis has to be made for the honour he has received from
 Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II, 1991 as  aMember of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire ( MBE ) for his work carried out in Galle for the Cleft palate project . He is the only Sri Lankan who is domiciled in Sri Lanka to receive this singular honourfromHer Majesty the Queen.

He has delivered several invited lectures, plenary lectures and presented many research papers atlocal and international conferences .
He has delivered prestigious
Professor Darrel Wijeratne Memorial Oration
Professor CC de Silva Memorial Oration
Dr. E M Wijerama Endowment Lecture
He has served
·         Chairman of the Board of Study in Paediatrics, Postgraduate Institute of Medicine, University of Colombo
·         Chief Examiner at MD (Paediatrics) and DCH examinations
·         Member of Standing Committee of International Paediatric Association 2007- 2011
·         Member of many National Committees convened by Ministry of Health and Ministry of Higher Education
·         Member of National Committee for Communicable Diseases
·         Member of Sri Lanka Medical Council-2002-2008
·         Member of Immunisation Practices Advisory Committee (IPAC) of WHO 2009 -2011
        (IPAG) WHO (SEARO) 2015 –to date
·         Member of CSO committee of Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI)

He has held Presidency  of many professional organization

·         Galle Medical Association 1990.
·         Sri Lanka Paediatric Association- 1993
·         President of Sri Lanka Medical Association 2011.
·         Founder President Vaccine Forum of Sri Lanka-2009

He has 136 publications in International and National  peertevivewed journals
He is an outstanding clinician with sharp and accurate clinical judgement
He gave of his very best to all, irrespective of caste, creed, religion or wealth. There are several generations of little patients and their parents   who have reaped incomparable diagnostic and therapeutic benefits from him and some of them are seated in this audience today as medical students of Ratnapura

To hold a formal  farewell for Professor Lamabadusuriya was obviously would have been  an emotionally painful endeavor for his colleagues and staff at   Lady Ridgway Hospital and Faculty of Medicine Colombo .
Upon his retirement Prof. SanathLamabadusuriyawas conferred  the title of  Emeritus Professor of Paediatrics from  the University of Colombo.
Although his official retirement occurred in ----  he continued to offer  his valuable services and expertise in the  field of paediatrics and to the other medical schools in the country 

He is currently  the visiting Professor of Paediatrics for the University of Rajarataa position he holds  since 2015. Many of you may not be aware that he travel in the train to Anuradhapura to teach medical students and his noble services has enabled Rajarata medical graduates to raise  their average of common MCQ  mark in pediatrics significantly  since he commenced teaching them .
He extended his services to the University of Sabaragamuwasince 2017 and serving in the capacity as a Consultant for establishment of the new medical faculty and continue to serve in this position to date.

Havingbadly  missed the opportunities to learn or work under Prof Lamabadusuriya I was still  fortunate enough to be closely associated with him through many  activities of Sri Lanka College of Paediatricians . He was a senior paediatrician that many of us  lookedup to and his opinion was much sought in many difficult encounters. Every successive Presidents of the Sri Lanka College of Paediatricianshad a seat reserved for Prof Lamabadusooriya in their respective councils.

Few years back  we were both  resource persons for a regional meeting of the College of Paediatrcians. We  were housed in a hotel with a beautiful  garden by the sponsors of the meeting. In the morning I saw someone taking photographs of a lady standing in the middle of flowers . For a  moment I thought  probable it  is a newly wedded couple. To my surprise It was Prof Lamabadusuiya taking photos of her beloved wife DrBuddika.

Prof Lamabadusooriya was happily married to Buddika. They  were blessed with three lovely and equally brilliant children who are all doctors and all of them are  qualified as Consultants.
Unfortunately Buddika had to leave this world leaving a vacuum in Prof Lamabadusooriyaslife .BuddikaLamabadusuriya was devoted Buddhist and I have no doubt that the merit she had accrued would assist in attaining Nirvana

Glimpse of the outstanding carrier of Professor Lamabdusoriyawould undoubtedlybe agreat inspiration for the young medical students who are present in this audience  today
As a practicing paediatrician, he strode the world of paediatrics in our country to greater heights.  His  academic brilliance, attention to detail, splendid diagnostic skills and unwavering commitment to excellence are  indeed legendary.
I fervently  hope that I have managed to do the justice to the profile of this  spectacular academic 
Thank you Prof Lamabadusuriya
 wish you good health and many more years of life to continue your invaluable  services for another generation of medical students and little kids

Desmond Gunatilake - An Appreciation by Kumar Gunawardene

The cold hand of death has laid its icy fingers on yet another of our colleagues. My sadness is profound  but I find solace in Khalil Gibran’s enduring words. ’For life and death are one, even as the river and sea are one’.

Desmond was one of the handful of Thomians in our year of ‘62; the others being Bora, Lareef, Sydney S, KDPR, Rajan R and  myself; also Uncle Bala who was half Royalist. To us he was CD; a Thomian trait whereby our companions were often alluded to by initials. Its probably a British public school tradition likely passed on by our founder Bishop Chapman who was an old Etonian. I was KRW to most of my classmates.

We restablished contact a few years ago following my discovery of his email address in one of our batch reunion souvenirs. After that we wrote to each other regularly. One of the most poignant exchanges was over his brother Geoffrey. He was a schoolmate who passed away at the age of fourteen. Death at such a tender age was a horrifying shock to all of us. We grieved silently with his close knit family. CD wrote that not a day passed without him thinking of his brother and could not get over his bewilderment why this happened so early in life to a near perfect human being. 

CD adjusted to the harshness of Medical School life quickly and was very helpful to me to find my feet.Fortunately the accident of our names made us sit close to each other at lectures.This was one exception to the alphabetical tyranny which separated us from our friends and those we wished to be close to.As ND has said CD was studious but also urbane and cultured  and endowed with a lively sense of humour.

We met most mornings in the red double decker buses, a legacy from the nationalised South western bus company.He would board in Mount Lavinia;some of us including Suri and Senarath would get in at Dehiwala and many more in Wellawatte (Chitta,Soma,Jayaratnam etc); a few girls amongst whom was Anna P would get in at Bambalapitiya.We had a great time usually in the upper deck chatting or simply gazing at the passing spectacle of those leisurely days ,dismissing  temporarily from our minds, the maelstrom we were heading to.

At the Eye Hospital junction we would disembark and walk to the faculty;a few brave souls like Bora would thumb a lift ,sometimes with hilarious outcomes;one day Professor Rajasuriya had stopped for him!!

CD faced the rag with equanimity our main inconvenience ,having to go to a cafe in Punchi Borella  for lunch,wearing a jacket back to front and also mismatched shoes. After that first tumultuous fortnight we would adjourn to the Canteen for lunch and sit together.Also at mid morning and mid afternoon for a cup of tea.I smoked  for about three months ,but CD never did.In and out of the bleak dissection  rooms and cold lecture theatres he was always ready to help with notes,advice and explanations.In the Common Room too he was a good companion;here the noisy animated chatter was the order of the day ,away from the billiard table and the carrom board.

At the end of the third year I joined Bloem;we thus drifted apart but only slightly.He sailed through all the examinations and we parted after graduation sadly never to meet again.He migrated to USA and I to UK and then Australia.But we always cherished “The memories and friendships fine and free ,we formed in the school of our boyhood ,the school by the sea. 

In the USA he became an expert and skilled pulmonologist ;a respiratory physician as we call them in our part of the world.One of his patients has written;”I have been a patient of his for more than ten years.I guess where he stands out the most is that he is a good listener.To me this translates that he wants as much data about your situation and you personally,before he’ll recommend what to do.
He had thus become a complete physician in the tradition of Hippocrates,other great physicians down the ages and also our own revered teachers.Now Desmond too belongs to the ages.
An old Mexican dicho (proverb) says that there are three deaths.First when the soul leaves the body,next when the body is buried or cremated and lastly when one’s friends forget you.
We must forever be grateful to Lucky,Mahen and all the others who sustain the Blog for not only preserving the memories of our departed colleagues ,but also for bolstering the friendships of all of us.

Farewell dear Desmond .To live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die.
 May you Rest In Peace.May the good earth lie softly over you.

Kumar G

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Cecil Desmond Gunatilake- an Appreciation

I was fortunate to know Desmond as we interned twice, once in Sri Lanka and then at Coney Island Hospital, NY, USA. We also worked together at the OPD, General Hospital, Colombo (GHC). It was while at the GHC, that Desmond and I decided to visit Sumathi in Deniyaya in his Ford Prefect car. 

Desmond chose to be a pulmonologist probably because he had come under the influence of Dr.Herbert Schub and his fellow Dr. Santi Dhar, both of whom were exceptional teachers and clinicians at Coney Island Hospital.

I lost contact with him for well over 15 years thereafter, and one day while visiting my daughter in the Bay Area of San Francisco. I called him. We ended having dinner with him and his wife, near San Jose, and caught up on stuff that we had missed out on in the intervening years. He was very happy and proud to let me know that his only son had been accepted to the University of Pennsylvania (Ivy League). Several months later, he contacted me wanting a character reference from me (which baffled me, but also made me happy that he would reach out to me). I then lost contact with him again.

Desmond had an interest in both cricket and rugby football and we went to several matches together in Colombo. He was a good christian, had a great sense of humor, and work ethic.

He will be missed greatly by his immediate family and those whom he touched in life with that friendly and yet mischievous twinkle in his eyes.

Indra Anandasabapathy

E-mails recd from colleagues